Backpack tips

School backpackAustralian children are at risk of spinal damage because of incorrectly packed and fitted school backpacks.

Adult back pain and spinal disorders may stem from childhood activities including carrying a heavily loaded backpack for twelve years or more of schooling. Many of the current bags children are using may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even distribution across the back, they can cause pain.
School can be a challenging time for children, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important to their physical and mental development.

According to an international study, daily backpack carrying is a frequent cause of discomfort for school children. School backpacks were felt to be heavy by 79.1% of children, to cause fatigue by 65.7%, and to cause back pain by 46.1%1.

Endorsed Products panelChiropractors are uniquely positioned to educate parents, teachers and students about spinal health care through their minimum five years university training.

Each week, there are over 215,000 visits to Australian chiropractors2 for a broad range of reasons.

Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective, and can restore correct function and relieve pain symptoms associated with the carrying of heavy backpacks.

Chiropractic possesses an excellent safety record, and through their five year university training, chiropractors are the spinal health experts.

Tips for carrying of heavy backpacks

    • Girl carrying backpackBackpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10% of a student's weight when packed.
    • Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized - no wider than the student's chest
    • Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than good looks
    • Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps
    • Use both shoulder straps - never sling the pack over one shoulder
    • Use waist straps attached - they are there for a good reason
    • Don't wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back
    • Don't overload the backpack - use school lockers and plan homework well in advance
    • Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight


Boy carrying backpackDownload and print our Backpack Fact Sheet to help minimise back pain associated with wearing back packs.

In early 2012, the ACA released some findings about the habits of Australian school children and backpacks. Download and print the ACA Backpack Research Fact Sheet >

1. Negrini, S., & Carabalona, R (2002). Backpacks on! Schoolchildren's Perceptions of Load, Associations with Back Pain and Factors Determining the Load. Spine, 27(2), 187-195.

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2004-2005). National Health Survey: Summary of Results. (No. 4364.0). Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.